Yesh Music and John Emanuele allege the streaming service is not paying them royalties.
Credit: Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

TIDAL, the streaming service launched by Jay Z in 2015, now faces a $5 million class-action lawsuit. Brought by Yesh Music and John Emanuele of the band American Dollar, the lawsuit alleges that TIDAL streamed 116 of the group’s songs without paying royalties.

According to court documents obtained by EW, the plaintiffs say that TIDAL “created its now 25 million track library by dumping all of the music from independent artists into the TIDAL Music Service without serving NOIs.” A Notice of Intent to Obtain Compulsory License — an NOI — is a necessary step businesses must take to legally distribute music. The plaintiffs also allege that TIDAL’s actions “diluted the paid per-stream rate for royalty payments by up to 35 percent.” Jay Z pledged last year that TIDAL would provide musicians with an industry-best 75 percent royalty rate.

“TIDAL is up to date on all royalties for the rights to the music stated in Yesh Music, LLC and John Emanuele’s claim and they are misinformed as to who, if anyone, owes royalty payments to them,” a TIDAL representative said in a statement to EW. “As Yesh Music, LLC admits in their claim, TIDAL has the rights to the Master Recordings through its distributor Tunecore and have paid Tunecore in full for such exploitations. Their dispute appears to be over the mechanical licenses, which we are also up to date on payments via Harry Fox Agency our administrator of mechanical royalties.”

The statement continues: “The entire catalogue in question streamed fewer than 13,000 times on TIDAL and its predecessor over the past year. We have now removed all music associated with Yesh Music, LLC and John Emanuele from the service. This is the first we have heard of this dispute and Yesh Music, LLC should be engaging Harry Fox Agency if they believe they are owed the royalties claimed. They especially should not be naming S Carter Enterprises, LLC, which has nothing to do with Tidal. This claim serves as nothing other than a perfect example of why America needs Tort reform.”

Yesh Music is a music publishing firm run by Emanuele and his American Dollar bandmate Richard Cupolo. Emanuele and Cupolo have previously drawn attention for suing Joel Osteen’s church and Grooveshark.

TIDAL has recently featured an impressive slate of exclusives, including new albums by Rihanna and Kanye West and the latest music video by Beyoncé.